Maybe you’re ready to limit your commute time and start seeing clients virtually via telehealth. Or perhaps you already have a private practice established but you want to run HIPAA compliant virtual nutrition support groups for clients who can’t see you locally. There are literally so many options when it comes to taking the plunge into telehealth for dietitians.
While shopping for an electronic medical record (EMR) to use for telehealth as a dietitian in private practice, I came to realize what I thought are the three most important things to get out of an EMR (whether you offer telehealth or not):
- Properly protecting patient privacy and confidentiality under HIPAA laws
- Creating a positive experience for my clients using technology that will help improve their outcomes
- Having a system that can help save me valuable time and resources
Before we get into this, I think it’s important for you to realize why dietitians need electronic medical records, and what the benefits are. Give yourself 5 minutes to read through all the information here, so that when you’re really ready to pick a product you have some solid understanding of what you’re looking for in an EMR.
In 2010, I opened my first nutrition counseling private practice and knew virtually nothing about practice management and all the details that must be taken care of when running a private practice.
If I knew back then, what I know now, and if some of the EMRs we get to choose from today had existed, I think I would have reached and retained more clients, been far more efficient, and slept better at night. How many late nights did I spend making my own forms and converting them in to fillable PDFs? And how about all the stress and time that I put in to accounting, tracking payments, filing paper charts, submitting insurance claims and the list goes on. You name it, I did it. I can literally remember the frustration of not being able to get a patient their superbill because of another printer paper jam!! And I didn’t do it the most in a streamlined, efficient process because I was creating my own systems and documents from scratch. I cringe.
Fast forward to today, and we are able to use Healthie or one of the other top electronic health record (EHR) platforms that streamlines all the admin work and allows me to focus on spending more time with clients.
Today we have some really great options for finding the best EMR for a dietitian in private practice. Almost all of which start with a free trial to help you get acquainted to the system.
Since I specialize in treating eating disorders and use an Intuitive Eating, non-diet approach with all my clients, I immediately fell in love with the customization features of Healthie. This allows the ability to dial the platform to what is most important to my clients based on the approach we work so hard on. With one click in settings, I can make sure my clients are not seeing any weight, calories, nutrition facts, or other potentially triggering data fields. Healthie has provided eating disorder dietitians with an EMR that does everything the other major EMR products offer, plus some really valuable bonuses and fine-tuned features which I think clients appreciate the most.
When shopping for the best EMR for dietitians, look for these features to help you, your clients, and your business:
- Calendar/Appointment booking: allows clients and other professional to book meetings according to your availability. Send reminders, view confirmations and spend way less time managing your calendar.
- Telehealth: start seeing clients via video meetings from your home or office and stay HIPAA compliant while doing it
- Mobile apps: provide your clients with a mobile app specific to their needs and your work together. They can schedule appointments, pay their bill, send a secure message, and in the case of Healthie, they can track food, feelings, hunger, movement, etc. which is one of my favorite features.
- Billing: secure patient billing, automatic payments, reminders. No more tracking patients down to get them to pay their bill, or spending time processing payment in session.
- Insurance claims: pre-set forms for submitting insurance claims, writing superbills, and even reporting and tracking features to keep track of each client’s billing
- Electronic documents: all your patient chart notes and documents are stored in the cloud. I love Healthie’s pre-formatted notes and forms, and the drag-n-drop feature to create my forms the way I want them.
- Secure email: Send clients intake forms, insurance and billing information, receipts, summaries, and any files all now within a secure platform so you never need to lose sleep about what would happen if your email were hacked and sensitive client information stolen.
All of this saves you time from having to create forms, create systems, and manage multiple programs (calendar, payment, charting, insurance, telehealth, messaging, etc.)
After a couple years of a break away from private practice, I’ve recently started to see private clients again, only this time I am working with them virtually. I knew I needed an electronic health record to help me stay compliant with all HIPAA laws and regulations. Trust me, this is not something you want to mess around with. I really like this article about “clearing up” the HIPAA confusion for RDNs. It’s not just about following regulations. This is personal, confidential client information we are protecting which is a vital piece of being a responsible clinician. At the very least it will be appreciated by any potential client who’s considering working with you.
Personally, I use Healthie because it best fit my needs. I love that my clients get the benefit of what I think is the best mobile client app of what I looked at. I preset all of the settings for each client so that it stays true to my philosophy and approach with their treatment. They are able to keep a food/mood/movement journal by taking photos, taking note of their hunger level before eating and fullness level after eating, and nothing about it screams diet or reinforces judgement about food because of the settings I can manage on my end.
I’m also really excited about the fact that you can host group calls with up to 50 people, so this is perfect for some of our EDRDpro membership events. It could also be exactly what you need to run a support group for clients without having to limit it to only locals and it stays HIPAA compliant! I had a few minor hiccups when getting started, but their customer service was awesome and helped me through from start to finish, including a personal 1:1 call with a Healthie rep. They walked me through a 30-minute demo and answered questions along the way before I even started the free trial. Customer service taken to the next level!
Some of the most popular EMR platforms available for RDs include Healthie, Kalix, ChARM, Practice Fusion, and KaiZenRD, all with similar main features but they vary in price and bells and whistles which is something I really wanted to take in to consideration. Again, most of these products offer free trials which is a great way to get started and test a product out to see how it works for you and your workflow.
So, what I’ve come to find recently, is that we can start to breathe a big sigh of relief when it comes to setting up the backbone of a private practice. Whether you are in need of a simple calendar, documentation and billing platform, or you want a comprehensive one-stop-shop for telehealth, billing, appointment booking, online classrooms and client engagement, there are tools out there to help RDs to stay compliant and productive.
Healthie is helping me feel more relaxed with everything there is to do in my business, and allowing me to spend more time with clients. I think you’ll find that investing in one platform will produce a high level of client satisfaction, and save you valuable time as well.